Squeezing Agrobiodiversity: Herbicides and High Density Cropping on GM Cotton Fields in Telangana, India

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 11 May, 2017 - 16:00
, Andrew - Heidelberg University

In practice, smallholder Genetically Modified (GM) cotton fields in Telangana, India, contain a surprising agrobiodiversity including food plants, ornamentals, trees, and medicinals.  This persistent agrobiodiversity is sustained through cropping strategies and labor organization that encourage the planting and seed saving of non-cash crops in the field.  The twin developments of herbicide-tolerant GM cotton and high-density cotton planting systems threaten this reservoir of plant maintenance and knowledge by replacing biodiverse, knowledge intensive farming practices with a more absolute capital-intensive cash-cropping system.  While this shift may ultimately diminish the risk of pesticide exposure for cotton farmers and laborers, it also accelerates the trend toward smallholder capitalization, rural-urban migration, and monoculture.  This paper draws on research conducted 2012-2016.